The beauty of building a support network as an international student lies in its unexpected sources. Unlike math, which follows a single formula, support can take various forms. Imagine bonding over coffee with someone twice your age or from a country oceans away from your homeland. The exposure to people with vastly different backgrounds is what makes Canada a beautiful place to call home.
I was fortunate that the University of British Columbia gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people through various avenues.
As an international student, one of the easiest ways to start making friends is by meeting people who live in the same residence or study the same subjects. Residence Advisors organize events to help students connect, and different faculties host department-wide socials too. Frequent interactions make it easier to maintain the relationships. There is no need to feel hesitant to express feeling of lost or overwhelmed. In my experience, people appreciate this vulnerability, making it easier to develop a bond. Knowing that support was minutes away in my first year helped me feel safe and comforted in a new country.
Universities also have clubs catering to a wide range of interests. Sharing a passion can help break the ice and expand both your skills and support network. The same applies to on-campus jobs in your field of interest. Interacting with colleagues in these roles provided me with valuable learning opportunities and mentorship to guide me when I was lost in the sea of information. While psychology is a popular major, it’s often challenging to find career-related information. Talking to my mentors helped me understand prospects and whether it was a good fit for me.
As an international student, it takes time to understand the nuances of different industries in Canada, especially if the work culture differs from that in your home country. Remember, it’s crucial to be open to the idea of seeking the support you need to build a solid support network.